Stream and Play MKV on Apple TV

This tutorial aims to help you successfully stream MKV to Apple TV for playback on the big screen in an easy way.

Apple TV is a tiny digital media player which allows you to enjoy a whole world of movies, TV shows, sports, music, and more. Can Apple TV Play MKV? In this article I will show you how what options exist for bringing .mkv on your Apple TV.


MKV is a common file format for videos. It’s more flexible in compression and usually renders in a smaller size with same quality video/audio output, especially for HD videos. Great-quality movies are increasingly seen being delivered over the internet via MKV format.

Does Apple TV support MKV videos?

No, the problem is files with the file extension .mkv are not supported by Apple TV. MKV means Matroska which is a container format (like .mp4, .m4v, .avi or .mov) that can hold video, audio and subtitle streams. So if you have some MKV files (for instance on your NAS, USB stick or external Hard drive), you need to find a "workaround" to watch them on your TV.What are MKV files exactly?

In general, it's important to understand that Matroska is not a video or audio compression format. It's just the envelope for several streams (and those streams are encoded with an video/audio codec like H.264 or AAC).

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In the following screenshot you can see that this MKV video has 3 streams. You can check this with VLC by pressing "Cmd + I" (Window > Media Information).

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How can I stream MKV videos to my Apple TV?

Depending on your source file (and/or your hardware), there are several ways how to get your video working with Apple TV and AirPlay:

Play the MKV file on a Mac and use AirPlay Mirroring

  • Remuxe the video file so that it's compatible with the Apple TV
  • Transcode / Re-encode the MKV file (that means converting it).

AirPlay Mirroring

A nice and easy way, if you have a modern Mac, is AirPlay Mirroring. Basically, this means that you play the video with your Mac (for instance with VLC) and just mirror your display to the Apple TV.

Details here: AirPlay Mirroring and AirPlay Mirroring: Tips for improving Performance

The big advantage is that you can instantly start watching your video.

Remuxing the MKV video

In most cases, the container format (.mkv) is the problem, not the video and audio stream inside. Then remuxing helps. It's means that you don't touch the video and audio streams. You just put an exact copy of them into a new container which is supported by Apple TV.

This works for all videos, that have compatible streams inside that are encoded for instance with H.264 and AAC.

For remuxing use a software like Subler. Open the .mkv file, select the streams and pass them through to a .m4v file. This doesn't too long because it's just "copying files". You should prefer remuxing to transcoding because you leave the streams untouched and avoid losing quality.

Transcoding / Re-encoding of your MKV video

If the video or audio stream in your MKV file isn't supported by Apple TV, you have to re-encode it. This means converting the streams to a different codec, bitrate or resolution and save it in a compatible container file format (like .m4v). This is time-consuming and could cause a loss in quality.

An open source software for re-encoding is Handbrake. Open the file, select an Apple TV preset and let Handbrake create an new video file.

Note: Although Handbrake provides Mac users a handy video converting experience, it is still far from perfect in terms of the output format. What's worse, Handbrake doesn’t keep abreast with the latest 10.9 Mavericks and 10.10 Yosemite.

So if you are hunting for a replacement for Handbrake Mac to help you out in an easy way, Pavtube iMedia Converter for Mac is exactly what you need. It is professional in converting Blu-ray, DVD and any videos including MKV to Apple TV compatible video at fast speed and high quality. Windows version is here.

Here is detailed steps. And find No 5.1 Surround Sound from Apple TV? This is the perfect solution.

Detailed Comparison between Handbrake and Pavtube

Main FeaturesHandbrakePavtube iMedia Converter for Mac
Supported input video formats3GP, AVI, FLV, MKV, MOD, MOV, MP4, MPG, WMV to MP4, MKV, AVI, OGM. (Sometimes, handbrake is not compatible well with them)HD and SD videos including AVCHD, M2TS, MTS, MKV, MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, VOB, WebM, etc. It supports batch conversion.
Supported output video formatsMKV and MP4More than 200 formats listed to ensure you can get the desired video and audio types, like H.265/HEVC, AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MPEG, MOV, MKV, RMVB, FLAC, AAC, AC3, AIFF, AMR, M4A, etc. Support both HD and standard video format as output..
Supported devicesiPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, PSP, AndroidSupport converting video to 200+ mobile phones and tablets including iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4, iPad Mini, iPod Touch, Apple TV, HTC One, Google New Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX, WP8, Surface, PSP, Xbox, etc.
Trim function and parameter settingOnly allowed to crop video, adjust video setting, audio setting and picture settingClip video to get your favorite segment, crop frame size to remove the black bars, merge separate videos into a new one, add watermark to personalize your videos, and add downloaded subtitles in AAS/SRT format to video sources, modify video/audio bitrate, resolution, frame rate, and more.
QualityRemove interlacingHigh-Quality, Deinterlacing,
SpeedHandbrake takes over an hour to do a movie conversion.6X faster than before by taking the full advantage of the NVIDIA CUDA technology and AMD ? Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP)

If you have any questions, please ask below!